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‘Immensely proud of the World Cup’ - Hassan Al-Thawadi highlights revelling crowds and welcomes fans from all backgrounds

12:46 GMT+3 29/11/2022
Hassan Al-Thawadi Qatar
Hassan Al-Thawadi highlighted how the World Cup has perpetuated a gradual improvement in health and safety standards at the construction sites.
  • Everybody is welcome in Qatar
  • 'Immensely proud of the World Cup'
  • Everyone is safe in Qatar

WHAT HAPPENED? The secretary general of the Supreme Committee of deliver & legacy reiterated that everybody is welcome in Qatar and are complete safe irrespective of their sexual identification.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to journalist Piers Morgan on Talk TV, Al-Thawadi said, “From our position, and my personal position, we’ve always said everyone’s welcome. We’ve worked hard to create an environment and to ensure that people from all parts of the world, all walks of life come into Qatar, engage and interact with people from the Arab world and the Middle East even though we might not see eye to eye on certain things, even though we might not agree on certain things but everyone is welcome.

“The point is to come to terms with the fact that we won’t see eye to eye but we can still have mutual respect for each other and still find a way of moving forward, celebrating together. It’s safe for everybody to be in Qatar, yes. Unequivocally, yes. I think it’s safe for everybody to live in Qatar. Public displays of affection are generally not part of our culture. Public display of affection is not part of our culture, regardless of who you are or your sexual identification. I mean that within reason. Holding hands in the streets is fine. Public intimacy is not a part of our culture, we’re a very conservative culture.”

On teams choosing to wear OneLove Armbands, Al-Thawadi opined, “If it was done specifically to address Qatar, I have a problem with it. If it was something that was going to be done and the European nations were going to be wearing it constantly then that’s up to them. It’s a decision that FIFA made between them and the European nations and it became a stand-off. That was a discussion between them.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: He also added, "We are immensely proud of the World Cup and everything that has unfolded since November 20. It's a moment of great pride, if you look at what's happening on the streets, people from all over the world coming in, celebrating. The stories unfolding on the pitch and stadiums, from a footballing perspective phenomenal, and great.

"Saudi Arabia beating Argentina and Morocco beating Belgium. That in itself is a phenomenal story. This is the first World Cup in the Arab world, this is the first World Cup in the Middle Eastern Islamic world. You see, not only in terms of teams participating, but you see in the stadiums, I was seeing some of the pundits over here and the fans, it was predominantly red, Moroccan supporters."

"And it's not just Moroccans flying over here, it's supporters of the Moroccan national team from the Arab population living in Qatar, visiting Qatar. Saudi supporters of Morocco, Morocco supporters who are supporting Saudi and Tunisia. For our part of the world, as Qataris and as Arabs we are extremely proud of this moment."

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT ELSE THEY SAID? “I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites. The World Cup sites that we were responsible for, most definitely to the extent that you’ve got trade unions – representatives of the German trade union, representatives of the Swiss trade union have commended the work that’s been done on the World Cup sites and the improvement.

“I think overall the need for labour reform itself dictates that yes, improvements have to happen. Just so we’re clear, this was something we recognised before we bid. The improvements that have happened aren’t because of the World Cup. These are improvements that we knew that we had to do because of our own values. Improvements that had to happen whether it’s our health and safety standards, whether it’s in terms of improving the accommodation standards, whether it’s in terms of dismantling the Kafala System.

“The World Cup served as a vehicle, an accelerator, as a catalyst because of the spotlight which we recognised early on was going to be shed. It caused a lot of initiative not only in terms of improvement in isolation but in terms of enforcing it as well. And that’s where today we got to a position where our most ardent of critics consider us to be a benchmark in the region.

WHAT NEXT FOR QATAR? The hosts, who have already been eliminated from the competition, play their final World Cup game later today against Netherlands.